Franchising – the Short Cut to Success

Franchising can take a lot of the guesswork out of entrepreneurship, and it can offer proven systems and support that will help you start, run, and sustain your own piece of an empire.
However, because franchising has become so popular, it’s harder and harder for prospective franchisees to shop all the various brands. There are so many to choose from, and they range from ambitious one-unit startups to global giants. Every customer-facing industry seems to have its own growing army of franchises, making the marketplace downright dizzying.
If you’re interested in working with a franchise, these tips will help you narrow your search and get more out of the process.

What really interests you?

When talking about the best strategies for investigating a franchise, lots of experts jump straight into topics like profitability, forecasting, and recession resistance. Don’t get me wrong, those are all essential factors to evaluate when looking at an investment, but potential franchisees should really start their search based on something a lot simpler: Things they actually like. Any business you become part of should provide a product or service that you enjoy and believe in. For example, if you haven’t used a pair of scissors since kindergarten, running a scrapbooking shop probably isn’t for you. If you aren’t passionate about fitness but have traveled the country in search of the perfect burger, you’d probably be happier running a fast casual burger joint than a gym. Step one of the search should begin with an honest assessment of what businesses actually interest you; this makes it a lot easier to narrow down the search, and you’re ten times more likely to feel satisfied with your choice.

Is there room for this franchise in my local market?

You may be passionate about frozen yogurt, but if there are already 24 yogurt shops in your town of 24,000 people, opening a yogurt shop isn’t a good idea. Ask yourself—and your top list of franchises—whether there is realistically room in your local market for the concept. It’s important to understand every franchise’s ins and outs when it comes to territory management and growth plans, and you want to be as realistic as possible. You should also check out each franchise’s sales philosophy. If you’re working with a known and established product, how does the brand retain customer trust and keep them coming back for more? If it’s a new concept, how does the brand explain and define their product or service? You ultimately want to sign up for something you can sell a lot of, so pay attention to every brand’s sales approach. Practice on a few friends who don’t know the brands and see if they “get it.” The more you compare and contrast the way each franchise approaches marketing, the more you’ll get a feel for what brands would mesh well with your market.

How accessible is the support system?

The process of opening and running a franchise is incredibly involved, and when you buy into one, you want to make sure you know what level of support you can expect. Franchises are all about duplicating the same great results, but if a business doesn’t have solid systems and support in place, you’re going to feel very lost very quickly. Too many franchises focus on their growth numbers more than they focus on the franchisee experience, and that eventually leads to wasted time, lost money, and a damaged brand. When you explore different franchise options, do some serious research on what kind of support the franchisees receive. Do the current franchisees you meet with feel stable, comfortable with running the business, and supported? What kind of training and maintenance resources are available, and how do you access them? Look for a company that has a balanced support system that offers comprehensive written resources as well as a regional developer who can answer questions live and help connect you with other franchisees.

What’s your overall sense of the people?

As you explore your top few franchise picks, talk to as many people within the business as possible. Visit franchise units in person as a customer, and listen to what other customers around you are saying. Chat with current franchisees to see whether they feel connected, supported, and stable in the business. Visit with the franchise’s key leadership team to get a sense of how they work together, what their vision is, and how well you get along. The most successful franchises have a defined culture that sets the tone for the entire brand, and you should feel right at home with that sense of identity. Finally, you want to make sure that the franchise is choosing you. They should ask you plenty of questions that are about more than the financials. A good franchise will be as interested in your success as they are in building their numbers, and the best franchises will be just as choosy as you are.


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